What makes it so difficult to take the message of Jesus about rest and apply it to our stress-filled busy lives? Many of us know His message about this and yet we persist. As I look through the rearview mirror, I can see how often I did! The tyranny of the “should’s” and the “ought’s” kept me in tow and their influence was a powerful tool to keep me running like the gerbil on the wheel. Those two words haunted me in every area of my life.
I could tell you the family dynamics and birth order research to explain some of those, but those (though significant) took me down rabbit trails trying harder to be better. As a result of my clinical counseling graduate program, I knew a great deal about healthy boundaries. They added to the things I needed to remember and do. Even the “to do” list that I heard from many Christians added to the stress that came from not feeling good enough. I knew they were good things, but it felt a bit like the Pharisees adding to the law.
What did Paul want me to understand from 2 Corinthians 3:5? That verse is highlighted and underlined in my Bible.
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,” 2 Cor. 3:5 (NASB)
I had felt inadequate much of my life in multiple areas, but my response was to try harder and do more. That would be a good example of how duped I/we could be by the devices Satan has used effectively for thousands of years. Perhaps when I or we do good things or important things, it makes it more difficult to detect his fingerprints on the issue. After all caring for our children, spouses, homes, ministries, jobs, neighbors, family members and friends are all important. We are not to be selfish so we press on.
Jesus tells us to take His yoke when we are weary and heavy-laden. That speaks in direct words to tiredness and stress. Matthew 11:28-30…do we even pause to consider what the verse tells us or what He means?
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mt. 11:28-30 (NASB)
So why do I/you resist or fear His yoke for what it means?
Hannah Anderson in Humble Roots who inspired this current series that began August 16 names the problem for what it is.
“We fear the loss of control. We fear surrender. But we must understand that without protection of a good master, we are not safe. From the manipulation of other masters. From the expectations of society. From ourselves.”
Ah, yes, that annoying nagging issue of control. How often each of us can plead guilty on that one once the Holy Spirit starts turning on the light so we see more clearly. Hannah says we need a “good master” and I can fathom no better one than Jesus. But if I/you are weary, tired, and stressed, is there another ‘master’ in charge driving us? I found it helpful to look at what other ‘masters’ might be at work in my life, those whom I gave too much control. That looks at control from the flip side I tended to view. What I saw was how easily the expectations of those ‘masters’ were behind so much of the unrest I experienced.
I hadn’t intended to give over control to other ‘masters’ who were manipulating nor had I intended to allow expectations of society to take the upper hand. Expectations of myself? I had plenty of those in abundance. By the time I reached this point, I was certain those were ineffectual and added to the drivenness creating the stress and exhaustion.
Hannah’s insightful words point to the steps needed.
“And so we must respond to Jesus’ call. We must come to Him. We must come to Him and learn (emphasis mine) of His gentleness and humility. We must come to Him to be tamed.”